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Talking Riesling with Gillian Hyde

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“A glass of Riesling?”

“No thanks, I only like dry wines.”

Talking Riesling with Gillian Hyde

This is one of my all-time favourite conversations!

As I swiftly replenish my own glass brimful with aromatic, crisp, pure, lemon-limey goodness, the exchange continues…

“Of course. Then let me pour you a glass of this mouth-puckering, in-your-face, astringently herbaceous other variety… Bwahahaha!”

I came out as a Riesling fan years ago. It’s been a lonely road, championing this underestimated, underappreciated, and misunderstood varietal. But there’s change in the wind, with Sydney’s Summer of Riesling Festival, and Melbourne’s Riesling Downunder challenging Australia’s resistance to this lovely grape head-on.

It’s terrific news for Riesling fans, and provided me with a great excuse to revisit some old favourites, and meet a most welcome newcomer …

Society Easy Drinking Selection Riesling 2013

Swan Hill, VIC

What a great place for the doubters to start their adventures in Riesling. From Swan Hill in Victoria, this is a really attractive wine: delicate but generously flavoured; citrusy without being tart; and unashamedly moreish. When re-tasting this recently with friends, it was my intention to road test it against a couple of classic food matches. Oops. Forgot to have dinner.

Society Premium Selection Riesling 2012

Clare Valley, SA

The first thing you’ll notice on opening a bottle of this wine is its delightful, slightly floral nose. Maybe this is what leads some people to conclude the wine will be sweet. But the first sip immediately affirms its lineage, with a gorgeous mouthful of tangy lime. There’s a complexity that you won’t find in its Easy Drinking stablemate; and a whole lot of promise too if, like me, you enjoy the intrigue that comes with ageing. Wines, I mean. I am less enamoured of the intrigues of ageing in the personal sense.

Society Directors’ Selection Riesling 2012

Henty, VIC

Confession: When I first tasted this wine a couple of years ago I wasn’t all that impressed. Conclusion: I must have been on drugs. (Although I do take some comfort from Ian McKenzie’s assertion that Henty Rieslings “can appear a little austere as youngsters”.) On re-tasting just a few days ago, I was knocked out by this delicious, elegant, and flavoursome wine, which is just at the very beginning of its development. It has a lovely viscosity, giving it good definition and mouthfeel. My tasting partner – in a rather dramatic pronouncement – declared that it sings in the mouth. Or perhaps she said zings. We had, after all, neglected to use the spittoon. Again.

Society Directors’ Selection Riesling 2014

Tasmania

It was the happy rediscovery of a six pack of the Society’s 2004 Tasmanian Riesling – thrown unceremoniously under the bed some years earlier – that cemented my love affair with the variety. So this is a newcomer I was very eager to meet. The nose is classy and a bit restrained (unlike those who were tasting); but it offers up a really generous mouthful of delicious citrus flavour. Fruity rather than flinty, this is going to be another cracker. I can’t wait to accidentally discover a case under the bed in 2022.

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